Taking the Pain Out of Painting
It took a woman like Carytown's newest artist, Sally Fretwell, with a background in psychology and Chinese philosophy, to make a practical difference in the way paint is manufactured and applied.
Fretwell is the survivor of a dangerous yet inspirational experience: getting sprayed by a mosquito-control plane while riding her bike in Florida. "It damaged my liver; they thought I was going to die," she says offhandedly, followed by a big smile. "But I didn't."
From this incident came the idea of paints without volatile organic chemicals, allowing you to sleep in a room right after you've painted it. Fretwell teamed up with Charlottesville painter Bruce Butler, who mixes the colors on her approval, to develop the paints.
Sally Fretwell Paints (3105 W. Cary St., 477-6058) moved this spring to Carytown from the West End. The store is made warm and cozy by the gentle tones of "Bonita Blue" and "Skies Over Wisp," and testimonials by clients are handwritten on paint sticks: "Thanks for lighting up my life!" and "The Perfect Green!"
Forget paint charts that never look the same in the store as on the wall of your house. Take home sticks of Fretwell paints with the colors you're considering for personal home consultation.
Fretwell's paints have become "As Seen on TV," since actor Ed Begley Jr. uses her products on his HGTV program Living With Ed, as will a soon-to-premiere HGTV show that will feature environmentally healthy residential makeovers. For more information, visit sallyfretwell.com. —Harry Kollatz Jr.
Amici's al Fresco Specials
Amici Ristorante has revamped its look: a remodeled patio complete with fresh paint, carpeting and a new sliding-glass wall that opens to Cary Street. "We just wanted to do our part in trying to spruce up Carytown," says restaurant owner Carlo Gaione. He says a recent poll in Southern Living magazine that ranked Carytown among the best shopping neighborhoods in the South was an added motivator. Amici also has taken to heart the needs of its patrons with disabilities, installing a wheelchair lift and remodeling the bathroom to ensure wheelchair-accessibility. Gaione says he's thrilled about the restaurant's remodeled patio, which features a folding six-panel glass door that allows for year-round patio seating (screens keep the summer insects away) and reduces energy costs. Beyond the structural renovations, Amici now offers a recession-calibrated menu featuring secondi piccoli — lighter entrée portions for almost half the price — as well as changing specials. The restaurant also added summer hours, opening from 11:30 a.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, offering a late-night menu. For specials, call 353-4700 or visit amiciristorante.net. —Ryan Marr
Julia Battaglini has imparted her passion for fine wine and artisanal beers for 11 years at her Carytown shop, River City Cellars (2931 W. Cary St., 355-1375) — but she says recommending wines has left her thirsty for a more welcoming venue for vino lovers.
"I have only been selling half of the experience by talking all day about how these wines taste. You cannot actually [enjoy] it," she says. "To pour it into the glass, you have to have a brand-new business model. … The way to do that is to open a restaurant."
Battaglini, who previously swore she would never open a restaurant, is doing just that with the eagerly awaited Secco Wine Bar next door to her store. It took two years to secure financing and permits, but Secco is set to open at the end of this month or the start of August.
Executive Chef Tim Bereika, formerly of Amici Ristorante, will craft small plates of European fare, paired with predominantly Italian wines and artisanal beers, with 25 varieties available at a time.
"The idea is that we are not going to have normal retail markup [on glasses of wine]," Battaglini says. "I want people to be able to try new and different things without having to plunk down $20 per glass." Secco also will offer homemade pasta and cheese plates that can be eaten in or ordered to go.
To keep up with Secco's development, visit rivercitycellars.blogspot.com or call 355-1375. —Bethany Emerson
Spit Some Seeds
Next month, the Watermelon Festival turns 26, and Carytown is celebrating with the help of 3,000 watermelons. This year's mile-long Cary Street extravaganza may beat last summer's 112,000-person record turnout. The Aug. 9 event offers $1 watermelon slices, to benefit the Shriner's Children's Hospital, as well as an assortment of carnival games, face painting and inflatable slides. A live-entertainment lineup features about 100 acts and more than 100 street vendors and exhibitors. And the best part? Admission to the festival is free all day (10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). For more information, call 304-6870 or go to carytown.org. —RM